From left are Officer Mike Johnson, SVSP Warden William Muniz, Sgt. Darius Galloway and MCPOA President Brandon Casarez

From left are Officer Mike Johnson, SVSP Warden William Muniz, Sgt. Darius Galloway and MCPOA President Brandon Casarez.

By Lt. Eduardo Mazariegos, AA/Public Information Officer
Salinas Valley State Prison
and Lt. Roland Ramon, AA/Public Information Officer
Correctional Training Facility

The Monterey County Peace Officers Association recently held its 46th Annual Officer of the Year Awards Dinner to give a platform for law enforcement agencies, large and small, to honor their peace officers.

Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) and the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) at Soledad each honored two employees.

SVSP Supervisor of the Year 2015: Sgt. Darius Galloway

Sgt. Galloway began his career with CDCR on July 17, 1997, at the Basic Correctional Officer Academy. Fresh from serving in the US Army, he soon graduated and arrived to SVSP on Aug. 30, 1997. His selfless service to SVSP and the community is immeasurable. Christmas 1997 was the first time he chose an Angel from the SVSP Angel Tree Program. The program provides gifts to disadvantaged children of the community. In 2004, when SVSP was without a Community Manager to sponsor the program, he went to the Warden and asked if he could be in charge of it to keep it going. He has been spearheading it every year since then and last year the program yielded over 200 gifts for needy children. He also initiates fundraisers for staff members who have been struck by tragedies.  He is always at the forefront in helping staff, their families, and the community. Sgt. Galloway is also deeply involved in the Cops Giving Tree Program. This annual community event provides families in need in the City of Soledad a Christmas Feast, gifts and a bicycle. Last year, 88 families were helped.

SVSP Officer of the Year 2015: Correctional Officer Mike R. Johnson

Officer Johnson began his career with CDCR in July 2009 and was assigned to SVSP on Nov. 14, 2009. Officer Johnson has worked on every facility and job assignment in the institution and is regarded as hardworking and professional.

On Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, at approximately 10:26 p.m., Officer Johnson came across the scene of a head-on collision at the intersection of Research Drive and Blanco Road in Marina. One of the vehicles was on fire. The officer went to the first car and saw the driver was conscious and breathing. Then he went to the other car which was on fire. One of the passengers had been ejected from the car and another had walked out. Half the car was now in flames. Johnson went to the burning car, found an unconscious female lying on the floorboard and with no regard to his own safety, attempted to save her. Her legs were trapped under the driver’s seat and the doors were stuck closed. With the help of a heroic Marina Police Officer, they were able to remove her from the burning car by smashing a window and pulling the dashboard away; saving her life.

Officer Johnson didn’t stop there. He created GoFundCDCR.com, a site allowing state prison staff and their networks of families and friends to contribute to charitable causes. He also continues to campaign for Rhea Nabau, the young woman he helped save.

Officer Johnson was also presented the Medal of Valor from MCPOA for his heroism.

CTF Officer of the Year 2015: Correctional Officer Rafael Diaz

On Sept. 30, 2015, an armed robbery at a Salinas pharmacy found Officer Diaz and another citizen chasing the suspect.

While in pursuit, the suspect fired one round at the officer and citizen, but missed. The pursuers tackled the suspect to the ground, holding him there until law enforcement arrived.

CTF Supervisor of the Year 2015: Sgt. Robyn Stricklin

Sgt. Stricklin began her career with CDCR on March 3, 2003, as a correctional officer. She promoted to sergeant on July 28, 2008. Since her promotion, she has worked numerous positions throughout CTF. Sgt. Stricklin was assigned as a Facility D Program Sergeant on Second Watch on Jan. 4, 2013. Once assigned, she took the initiative to lead and organize Facility D in the department’s accreditation initiative regarding the American Correctional Association (ACA).

Sgt. Stricklin has worked side-by-side with the CTF ACA coordinators in assuring all appropriate logs and forms are current and aligned with ACA standards.

She consistently excels at her duties with initiative as she is proactive in all tasks assigned to her.